The Tacoma Weekly Newspaper—which also publishes the Fife Free Press, Milton Edgewood Signal, and Puyallup Tribal News—is an intense proving ground for a young journalist. But for Erica Cooley ’15—a University of Puget Sound Communication Studies major who’s also minoring in English—it’s also “…a great publication with a staff of talented writers” that you can learn from as an intern.
CES: How did you find the editorial internship at the Tacoma Weekly Newspaper?
Erica: I’ve known Matt Nagle from the Tacoma Weekly for a few years and have just kept in contact. I reached out to him in May and asked if the Tacoma Weekly would be interested in having me write and intern for them—and he said yes.
CES: What did your role entail?
Erica: My role at the Tacoma Weekly entailed being assigned or coming up with article ideas each week. Once I was assigned an article, I performed an interview or two, and researched the topic online to compile more information. I would sometimes need to take photos to accompany my article or obtain photos from others. Then I would write and edit my article. Lastly, each Tuesday I would submit my photos and articles to my editor. Each Wednesday, I would also go into the office and edit the newspaper with the staff for publication the next day.
CES: What did you learn during your time at Tacoma Weekly?
Erica: I learned so much about the processes of publishing a weekly newspaper. I learned how to properly prepare and execute an interview. I learned how to work with deadlines and what to do if a source won’t return your phone call or email. I learned a lot about AP style writing which all news publications use. I learned how to copy-edit an entire newspaper and all the steps that go into publishing.
CES: How has this internship helped with your career goals?
Erica: My goal is to be a journalist. Gaining experience at the Tacoma Weekly Newspaper has given me experience writing, interviewing, copy editing, and working with the staff at a weekly publication. I’m hoping that this experience writing and having published work will help me when I start applying and looking for future jobs at newspapers and magazines.
CES: What was the most enjoyable part of your internship?
Erica: The most enjoyable part of my internship was going to events and festivals all summer in Tacoma and taking photos, interviewing, and then getting to write up an article to represent the event. My internship at the Tacoma Weekly got me really involved in the community and at local events, which I really enjoyed.
The Tacoma Weekly is a staple in the community in keeping local Tacomans connected to the ins and outs of their city, and I am so glad I got to be a part of that.
CES: What was most challenging about your internship?
Erica: I would say the part that challenged me the most was problem solving quickly when working on a short weekly deadline. A few times I had issues with getting people to respond to my inquiries—in those cases I really had to work quickly to get all the pieces to come together. The fast pace of a weekly publication was definitely a challenge at times, but one that I learned so much from.
CES: What advice would you offer other students considering an internship in the same area of expertise? Or just internships in general?
Erica: From my experience with internships, the best advice I could give is always do more than is expected of you and to be reliable.
Going above and beyond helped me gain more trust from my supervisors and eventually I was getting two or three articles a week in the newspaper. This trust also came from being reliable and never letting anything slip between the cracks when it came to my assignments. Especially in the field of publication, when an article falls through, that means a big blank space in the newspaper which causes stress for everyone else at the paper.
Being reliable and consistent—especially in journalism—is very important.
I would definitely encourage other Puget Sound students to pursue an internship at the Tacoma Weekly. It’s a great publication with a staff of talented writers and all around great people that you can learn so much from.
CES: It’s June now, and you’ve started a second editorial internship with another publication. Can you tell us about that?
Erica: I’m at Seattle Health Magazine, which is a sister magazine to Seattle Magazine. It’s published bi-annually and specializes in local Seattle area health topics. As an editorial intern, I have complied the events calendar, awards and accolades, and clinical trials section of the magazine. I also have a small feature article on a new health trend happening in Seattle for the Fall/Winter issue that comes out in October.
CES: Has the opportunity to compare experiences in both internships changed or shaped your understanding of the publishing industry or the way you’re pursuing your career goals?
Erica: The experience at Seattle Health Magazine has differed from the Tacoma Weekly in that a weekly publication has much shorter deadlines—versus at Seattle Health Magazine, I’ve been working on pieces for the Fall/Winter issue the entire time.
The editing process is a lot different too. At the Tacoma Weekly, each week we have copy-editing where we check for spelling, grammar, and syntax errors in each piece of the newspaper. At Seattle Health Magazine, I’ve just started fact checking for the magazine that comes out in two months. The fact checking process is much more detailed in which I call individual people, and check sources and facts for each section of the magazine.
Learning different processes for both the magazine and newspaper has really helped confirm that I enjoy both types of publications and I think I would be happy working at either type in the future.
Ready to write the next chapter of your career exploration? Visit CES to learn more about internships for Puget Sound students.
© 2015 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound
Photos by Ross Mulhausen